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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions fall into several categories. You can scroll down or click to jump directly to the following categories:

Study-related Questions

Scroll down or click to jump directly to answers to the following questions:

What does Ridley stand for?
If you are not yet familiar with the history and purpose of Ridley Melbourne, a visit to our main college website will help.

How does distance study work?
All study is coordinated through this eRidley website. Content is uploaded here weekly. Along with weekly study guides and their learning content, the site will guide you through other relevant reading; some of this comes from set textbooks, and many other readings are supplied. There are online forums for you to engage in, so that you can learn from interaction with teachers and with other students. There are assignments of similar quality and quantity to our regular classroom assessment.

Who can engage in distance study?
The units that we offer for distance study are part of our usual courses and awards (see next). If you’re eligible to study one of these regular courses, then you’re eligible to study online. To do so, you'll need sufficient time and access to suitable technology (see below). A great variety of students study online with us, including those living in regional Australia, those who work awkward shifts or who travel, parents of young children, international candidates, and so on.

What courses can I enrol in?
You may enrol in a small number of units purely for interest’s sake. However, we offer a range of undergraduate and graduate awards, and these typically share a common set of introductory units. It is these foundational units that are available for distance study. You might enrol in an undergraduate or graduate diploma (8 units) and complete the entire award online. Or, after these foundational units, you might wish to add additional units (taken at our Parkville campus or through another distance provider) and complete one of our three-year-equivalent coursework degrees (24 units).

A quick summary of the course options reads:

undergraduate award
(if you’re new to tertiary study)
graduate award
(if you have a tertiary degree)
8 units
(one-year equivalent)
Diploma of Theology Graduate Diploma of Divinity
24 units
(three-year equivalent)
Bachelor of Theology
Bachelor of Ministry
Master of Divinity

What units will be offered online?
Our suite of first-year units is available as follows. Every year we are offering the two introductory units in Old Testament and the matching two introductory units in New Testament. Other units in Hermeneutics (biblical interpretation), Theology, Missions, Greek are available every second year. Most units may be taken in any order and any combination.

We are in collaboration with the Reformed Theological College, who also teach similar units in a similar way. They offer helpful units in Church History and Christian Thought (e.g. ethics, worldview). Credit earned is automatically compatible with Ridley-based units, and units are taught in an identical internet environment. Other distance providers also offer core and elective units by distance, so we can help tailor your study to your particular context.

Present and future units, both at Ridley and the RTC, are tabulated under the Units Available page.

How much time is required?
Each unit is offered and paced alongside the classroom equivalent. The first semester units run from late February to early June, and second semester from late July until early November. You will need to set aside time each week to read the learning material and recommended texts, to regularly engage with online discussion forums, to digest what you've learned, and to do the regular assessment components. Different students achieve these things at different speeds, but you should estimate roughly 6–10 hours each week during semester, for each unit you undertake.

How much does it cost?
Our accrediting body, the Australian College of Theology, requires us to charge the same fees for all students, whether they are on campus or online. The main Ridley website gives further details on fees, and how they can be discounted and/or paid. Distance students who live more than 50km from the Melbourne CBD will usually qualify for a $200 rebate on each unit studied. Remember that you may incur certain costs for library postage and for whatever means you connect to the internet. Don’t forget the usual costs involved in buying textbooks, printing notes and readings (if you don’t want to read on a screen), producing assessment (although these are usually submitted online), etc.

What resources will I need?
We recognise that distance students are unlikely to have the same study resources as those on campus. You will need to buy two or three key textbooks for each unit. We make many readings available for you online. When it comes to assignments and wider reading, the library owns special copies of important texts especially for distance students, as well as allowing you to borrow from its entire catalogue. (We will pay the cost of posting books to you; you will need to pay for their return.) The library also has access to many online journals. For technical requirements, see below.

Can I audit subjects online?
Yes. You can ‘sit in’ on any of the subjects and participate in discussion, but without having to submit assessment. The usual entry criteria and (discounted) costs for auditing a Ridley subject apply to our online units.

Can I visit the campus?
By all means! Some students like to come and see the parallel classroom teaching that we offer. You can simply come and visit at random (though do inquire ahead), to see what Ridley is like. Distance students are also welcome to come and attend equivalent classroom lectures when able, as well as joining in with co-curricular activites like chapel and morning tea.

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Procedural Issues

The process of exploring study and enrolling is much the same as the usual application process. We recognise that you are unlikely to attend campus to meet with faculty or complete your registration, and will use alternate mechanisms.

The primary things that you ought to do as a potential distance students are:

  • Check that you’re suitable and eligible to enrol in one of our courses. Theological study online will be just as rigorous as it is on campus.
  • Check that you have sufficient time. The danger of distance study is that you may not set aside enough time for your studies. It can help to be accountable to other students, to your local community, and/or to your minister.
  • Check that you have a reasonable internet connection and computing skills. All your study material, much of your reading, and most of your assessment will be provided online. We do not envisage that you will require a high level of technology or of technological competence. But you will need regular internet access, and familiarity with basic web surfing, e-mail interaction and word processing. More technical specifications are given below.
  • Actually enrol. Remember that there are application deadlines for each semester, and that the application process—especially for new students—is not an instantaneous process. Our application page page gives a good outline of what is involved.

Some other helpful (but not essential) things which would benefit your study might include:

  • Investigating local accountability. We would hope that you have the support of your family, friends and church leader(s). As well as praying for you, they can help keep you accountable for the time you spend each week, and help you think about how your studies apply to your everyday life and ministries.
  • Investigating study options. Some people work well in groups. We would certainly encourage those who live nearby others to meet together, informally or even formally. Those further apart might want to arrange intentional interaction with others by phone or internet. We will be happy to assist in getting to know others in your local area who are studying.
  • Investigating further resources. While you will have full borrowing rights from Ridley's library, there are also other theological libraries that you may wish to seek access to. And though we will furnish you with most resources, many students like to develop their own theological library. Perhaps start a Christmas wish-list now!

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Technical Questions

What sort of computer skills do I need?
All material is made available via this eRidley website, so most of your learning will be similar to surfing the web. Most interaction with others is by e-mail or similar text-based communication. Assignments are either completed online, or are to be uploaded (e.g. as Microsoft Word documents). Some units still require a final exam to be done with the old-fashioned paper-and-pen arrangement.

Your experience of reading these FAQs will be a reasonable guide to how you will find online study. If you are comfortable with finding these answers, then your online learning won’t be any more difficult.

What sort of computer do I need?
It's hard to avoid the ‘new is better’ mindset. But we aim to make our material accessible to students with even modest levels of technology. Because our units are web based, it doesn’t matter whether you use Windows or a Macintosh or something else. You simply need a relatively recent web browser (no older than Firefox 1.0.5, Internet Explorer 5, Safari). This in turn would suggest that your computer should be something like:

windows macintosh
Pentium 233MHz G3
Windows 98 OS 8

Again, a newer and faster machine will perform better. But we are intentionally striving to not overload your computer with video conferencing and other optional bells and whistles.

What sort of internet connection do I need?
Because we are conscious of making the project widely accessible, your internet connection needs to be reliable, but it need not be fast. Of course, a broadband connection will help, and there are some optional multimedia resources, but our units and resources are designed to function reasonably for a dialup (56kb) connection.

Who is responsible for what?
It is our responsibility to ensure that the eRidley platform performs smoothly, along with other administration of your studies. And we are happy to offer technical advice and assistance where feasible. However, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your equipment and connection to the eRidley website is suited to this endeavour. If you fear that your technological wisdom is a little lacking, please seek advice and support in these matters before enrolling.

What is a Learning Centre?

Where distance students live nearby each other, we are encouraging the formation of learning centres. While many may be informal (2–3 students gathered in a home), there are some areas where a more formal arrangement may be possible (3+ students gathered in a church hall or similar). The following questions and answers are particularly oriented towards those groups and churches who would like to organise a more formal setting, though informal centres might also glean some ideas from here.

If you would help with finding or forming a learning centre, do ask!

How can a Learning Centre help?

There are any number of ways that a Learning Centre can assist students. These can range from quite simple and informal matters to very organised and intentional support. The following is a list of example ideas that you might explore, whether as a student seeking some peer support or as a ministry centre wishing to facilitate learning.

Offer space:
A church or other institution might offer students some space in which to meet regularly. Space on its own is valuable. More important is any mechanism which encourages students to meet together; having a special space for this can encourage such meeting. And from an educational point-of-view, having somewhere special to study can help focus the mind (and take students away from distractions).

Offer supervision:
Where ministers or other lay leaders have enjoyed some previous theological education, they may be willing to offer some degree of supervision. This might be as simple as helping students to be accountable to meet together. It might be the encouragement of someone who has ‘been there’, particularly when tricky theological questions arise or when the pressures of assessment are felt keenly. There may even be the possibility of some formal educational role, serving as a tutor for local students.

Offer other support:
Students are always in need of support. Everyone’s prayers for their studies are essential. Encouragement and accountability throughout the semester must not be undervalued. Assistance with proof-reading can help those who are not confident with written expression. Talking through issues (whether you fully understand them or not) can assist students to better clarify their own thoughts. Of course, you can also extend your support in other ways, such as sponsoring a textbook or some of a student’s fees. Larger Learning Centres might host a central collection of resources (like key reference works), or even develop a formal system of scholarships or bursaries.

An excellent example of a larger Learning Centre is the Mathew Hale Public Library in South Brisbane. The library has collated many of the key texts, and eRidley students are encouraged to meet and collaborate together.

Become a centre—recruit other students:
One of the best forms of support is to actively encourage a number of students to tackle a unit together. Church leaders might prayerfully consider, nominate and encourage students to undertake some studies. Make use of our online or printed advertising. (Feel free to download and distribute our introductory brochure [653kB].)

Encourage & facilitate ministry experience:
Studying theology is never an end in itself. It is to further contribute to the building of the local and global church. Students will benefit from the chance to put their learning into practice. Local churches can encourage and facilitate students to give a talk, lead a Bible study, or preach a sermon on some of the things that they have been learning. Careful and caring supervision can be an essential part of this practical learning process.

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Further Enquiries?

For enquiries about enrolling in particular units and degrees, you should contact the Registrar’s office directly: (03) 9207 4800 (option 3) or <registrar[at]>.

For all other questions, such as the availability of units, how online study operates, what computer skills and technology you might need, contact the Coordinator of Online Learning: (03) 9207 4800 (ext 906) or <cool2011[at]>.

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Last modified: Tuesday, 18 December 2012, 3:45 PM
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